A new Daintree Ferry is Proposed on the Agenda at Tomorrow’s Douglas Shire Council Meeting

An Ordinary Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, 26 July 2022, at 10am. There is a busy agenda up for debate and discussion including a proposal to build a new ferry. Links to the agenda items are provided below, with key subjects introduced.

Council Meetings are now open to the public.  There will be a maximum of ten people allowed (due to size of the room and to allow for social distancing) and will not need to pre-register.

The meeting will be live-streamed online and can be access by clicking here.

Daintree River ferry, inset is present Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr.
Image Credit / @douglasshirecouncil

5.1 Audit Committee Meeting Minutes

5.2 Interim Financial Report June 2022

It is recommended that Council notes the Interim Financial Report June 2022 and the Estimated Financial Position for the 2021-22 financial year. The Report details the progress of the 2021-22 annual budget for
the period ended 30 June 2022. Key points to note include the following:
+ Operating revenue is currently ahead of budget $710k.
+ Operating expenditure is under budget by $2.5m.
+ The Operating Surplus is currently $250k, compared to a budgeted deficit of $3m.
+ The Forecasted operating Deficit for 2021-22 is $1.2m, an improvement vs revised budget of $1.8m

5.3 Daintree Ferry Crossing Solution

It is recommended that Council resolves to replace the existing Daintree Ferry, with a single ferry capable of four lanes of road vehicles and dual road vehicle loading capability and associated landside infrastructure upgrades on both riverbanks.

It is reported that Council has received feedback from the community and visitors over a long period of time regarding the travel experience of the Daintree River Ferry (ferry). After having more direct
understanding of the day to day operations of the ferry, it is prudent that all reasonable initiatives to improve ferry services be re-evaluated.
Council Officers have worked closely with the current ferry operators, traffic engineers and the
regulator bodies within the State Government to understand the feasibility of various options
that have been suggested by the community and tourism industry. This report seeks to present
a synopsis of the findings from investigations carried out over the past eleven months and to
recommend an agreed way forward to make short and long term improvements to the ferry
In investigating improvements to ferry services, Councillors have identified four primary
objectives as follows:
+ Priority lane improvements: additional lane northside and realignment of lanes
+ Better tourist experience
+ Reduced queuing times
+ Redundancy
An evaluation has been completed on seven ferry options against these objectives:

  1. Change nothing – keep operating the same ferry. Not recommended due to no
    improvement in service levels.
  2. Replace existing ferry, with one of same design. Not recommended due to no
    improvement in service levels and changes to safety standards over past 16 years
    make current design obsolete.
  3. Build a similar sized vessel and operate two ferries in peak season. Not
    recommended as there are better options and large challenges/risks.
  4. Replace existing ferry with a longer vessel to carry more vehicles. Delivers 20%
    increase in capacity but not recommended as there are better options.
  5. Build a longer ferry, carrying more vehicles and operate two ferries in peak season.
    Not recommended as there are better options.
  6. Replace existing ferry with a wider ferry, with four lanes and dual loading capability. Delivers 48% increase in capacity (worst case), or up to 90% increase (best case). While there is no service redundancy it is the preferred option out of the seven.
  7. Build a wider ferry, with four lanes, dual loading and operate two ferries in peak season. Likely to be cost prohibitive and has large challenges/risks, therefore is not recommended.

Initial work has commenced to investigate the options of upgrades to landside infrastructure
on both the northern and southern sides. Council has already allocated funds within the 2022-23 budget to commence this work. This includes:
+ Northern side priority lane, with approvals, design and construction estimated to take between 15-24 months. It should be noted that this is subject to State agency approvals and is likely to require the removal of vegetation.
+ Southern side – improvements to the road configuration, with approvals, design and construction estimated to take between 15-24 months.

5.4 Application for permanent road closure over unnamed road reserve, adjacent to Lot 129 on SR454 Toll Gate Road, Oak Beach

5.5 Operational Plan Progress Report for April to June 2022

5.6 Report from the Chief Executive Officer for period April to June 2022

5.7 Capital Works Progress for Last Quarter 2021-2022

5.8 Tourism Port Douglas Daintree Strategic Plan 2023

It is recommended that Council receives and notes the Tourism Port Douglas Daintree Strategic Plan 2023 and Marketing Strategy 2023. Council has a Resource and Performance Agreement with TPDD under which Council will fund TPDD $450,000 (ex GST) in 2022-23, for the purpose of developing the regional economy through the marketing of the Douglas Shire as a destination to domestic and international tourist markets. Under the terms of the agreement TPDD provides Council with quarterly reports and copies of strategic documents.

The strategies outline the wide range of activities and initiatives TPDD will undertake to further their five-year vision of firmly positioning Port Douglas Daintree as the Eco-Luxe destination of Queensland.

TPDD’s strategic priorities up to 2025 are to:
+ Increase our share of the domestic tourist market
+ Generate year-round visitation
+ Promote the creation of new tourist experiences to refresh visitation
+ Focus on the region’s reputation as a world-leading sustainable destination
+ Fast track regional recovery.

Douglas is strongly aligned with the travel trends identified by Tourism Australia in 2022. TPDD
activities will elevate sustainability, indigenous and wellness trends in content and storytelling.
Traditional Douglas market mix – 65% domestic with Victoria and New South Wales being the larger
and 35% inbound (USA, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, France, Netherlands).
Consumer online sentiment for the destination is fluctuating while the volume of online conversations requires stimulating. Follow the link for a complete breakdown of TPDD’s strategy.

5.9 Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan

5.10 Unreasonable Complainant Conduct Policy

5.11 Rates Rebate – Not for Profit Entites Policy – July 2022

5.12 Contract WO5644 – Reef Park Port Douglas Street Lighting Phase 2

5.13 Tender for Mossman Water Treatment Plant Ultrafiltration System Upgrade

5.14 Tender for Smart Water Meters – Phase 2

Douglas Shire Council engaged Taggle Systems Pty Ltd to supply, install and work with Council to enable a smart water system that would provide real time water meter readings for the purposes of water security, while improving water billing and network maintainability.
Phase 1 had a limited budget, which was funded by Queensland Government under 2021-24
Works for Queensland initiative. The budget enabled rollout of 900 smart water meters and
set up of the data management platform known as Aqualus.
This Variation for Phase 2 will be a continuation under Contract 020-023 – Smart Water Meters
with Taggle Systems to ensure the remainder of the Shire’s active water meters are upgraded
enabling complete oversight and data capture of water usage for the purposes of billing and
water network management.

Revised contract value after variations is as follows:
Original contract value: $588,088.53
Revised contract value after variation: $541,274.19
This variation: $1,078,634.88
Revised contract value: $1,619,909.07 (GST exclusive)

Douglas Shire Council has sought the services of a suitable contractor to supply and install a
smart water system that meets the requirements of Council to improve water security, billing
accuracy and reduce resource costs for the future. Council issued an open tender invitation
through Vendor Panel to provide a smart water meter service to Douglas Shire for the next 15 years.
Due to funding limitations, Council officers requested the offers be presented as a two phased
tender, to enable the project to be funded over a two-year period.

Seven submissions were received, noting that one submission failed to provide sufficient documentation to enable evaluation. As a result of limited funding availability, tenderers were requested to provide
pricing for an initial scope (Phase 1), covering the rollout of software and hardware for Port
Douglas area, with the follow-on scope (phase 2) covering the remainder of the Shire.
The submissions were independently evaluated by key internal stakeholders. Subsequently, two tenderers were selected to present their offer to Council.
Based on this process, Taggle Systems Pty Ltd was selected as it provided the best value for
money in terms of usability and robustness.
A Council resolution for the original contract value of $588,088.53 as Item 5.4 of the Ordinary
Council Meeting of Douglas Shire Council held on Tuesday, 31 August 2021 was made.
Taggle Systems was issued a contract for Phase 1, which contained clauses enabling
negotiation for Phase 2 pricing at a later date.

In the 18 months since the initial pricing of proposed Phase 2, individual meter prices have increased by 9%, which reflects increases in the cost of the supply of materials to the Contractor. These cost escalations are reflecting the current worldwide volatility of fuel, transportation and commodities prices. Under this variation, the terms of the existing contract will prevail.

To keep up to date of these and other Council issues, view the meeting live or attend the Council chambers in person. The meeting will be live-streamed online and can be access by clicking here.


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